Whether you’re an amateur photographer simply wanting to capture a few family snapshots, or you’ve decided to go into business preserving other families’ special memories, understanding how to properly expose your photos to get great lighting will make the difference between forgettable photos and photos that are cherished for generations.
Utilize Natural Lighting
One of the best ways to ensure you have great lighting for family photos is to capture and utilize as much natural light as possible. There’s a reason that landscape photography often has such breathtaking results, and that is because the lighting in landscape photographs is always natural, providing a beautiful base for the viewer to enjoy the photo. This works for family photos, as well, so whether you shoot outside in the open air, or fling curtains open wide to let natural light inside, utilize as much natural light as you can, whenever you can.
Take Advantage of the “Golden Hour”
If you really want to effectively utilize natural light, taking advantage of the “golden hour” will allow you to achieve improved results with the same equipment. This twice-occurring time of day, which happens just after sunrise and just before sunset, allows you to utilize the softer, warmer light of the sun while it is low and close to the horizon. As the sun rises higher, photos risk being more washed out, so if you can get the timing right, this is a perfect time of day to take as many pictures as possible.
Add More Lights
If you must be inside to capture family photographs, it’s important to have the right amount and types of lighting to make photos look as warm and natural as possible. If you have too much focused light, it could create harsh shadows on subjects’ faces, leading to unsatisfactory results. Have broader, more diffused light installed by placing it further away from where your subjects are, in order to achieve a softer light with fewer shadows. Reach out to a home electrician, especially if you have a home studio, like Fowler Electric LTD, for ideas on lighting and lighting options.
Avoid the Flash
No matter where you’re taking family photos, try to avoid, if at all possible, using your camera’s flash. As a single-point light source, you run into many of the same problems you would when utilizing harsh room lighting to try and capture photos: shadows on faces, blotchy skin, and overall unsatisfactory results. Put yourself in the right places at the right times so that you’ll have adequate ambient lighting to pull off great photos without having to engage your flash a single time. If you must use flash, at the very least use a flash diffuser to help create that broader light indicative of good ambient lighting.
Whether you’ve got one chance to get the perfect shot, or you’ve got as many takes as you need, don’t be so focused on the lighting that you become unenjoyable to work with. The people you are photographing are real people, with real emotions, and if they sense that you’re stressed or frustrated, that’s likely to show in their faces when you capture those special moments. Do the best you can with the resources you have, and know that you can fix an awful lot with enough time in post-processing.